It is a collection of short stories, which is not my favorite thing in the world. I think I picked it as my first choice for my reading Ireland project, because my mum is a photographer (you can check out her pictures here and here). It consists of nineteen stories, all about women. Enright touches on different aspects of woman’s life. There are stories about women of all ages, but somehow not a single one of them is happy, they all seem to be missing different things in their lives. Some of them quietly accept the situation, some openly fight and some fight under cover, pretending everything is fine, but sneaking into their life some change, not always for good.
Sex plays an important role in Enright’s writing, but I found the way she writes about sex sort of sad. She writes with a lot of distance, separating sex from any deeper emotions or intimacy, making it more about power, more animalistic (I probably just nvented this word).
I don’t want to write about every single story, it’s better if you read and judge them for yourself. I’ll just mention those I really liked.
“Pillow” is about an Irish student living in a multi-cultural college dorm in US. It is hilarious when describing cultural differences, very true in talking about living with strangers and culminates in a creepy finale.
“In the Bed Department” we meet Kitty, middle-aged employee of the said department. Kitty’s life is average to a point of desperation, but she doesn’t give up. Quietly she fights for her change of life. A delightful story.
“Little Sister” was very moving and that’s all I can say without spoiling it.
“What You Want” is probably my favorite, a cleaner in the opera not only gives us advice on how to get the most out of three wishes, should we ever come across an angel, a fairy or the devil, but she also tells us about her life and her son who makes her very proud. There was warmth radiating from this story.
Overall this collection did not convince me to become a short-story-monster. It was uneven for me. Also I felt as if Enright was keeping me at arm’s length from the characters for a lot of time. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it.
Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska